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Twenty-seven of the foreigners whose indefinite detention was quashed by the landmark High Court decision are cases that have been referred to immigration ministers over several years under the category of “very serious violent offences, very serious crimes against children, very serious family or domestic violence or violent, sexual or exploitative offences”.
The categories show why detainees had their visas cancelled on character grounds. Not every detainee in each category would have been convicted in Australia and some may have been convicted overseas.
Documents tabled in the Senate late on Thursday evening reveal that 40 of the 92 detainees were detained in NSW, 24 are from Victoria with the balance in Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the ACT.
The dashboard was prepared for the government on October 19, three weeks before the High Court decision on November 8.
It reveals that Afghanistan (18), Iran (17), Sudan (10) and Iraq (7) are the top four source countries for the detainees. In total, the cohort of 92 people come from 23 countries while nine are considered stateless.
The document also reveals 21 of the detainees have been referred to Clare O’Neil, the Minister for Home Affairs, for cyber crimes, serious and high-profile organised gang-related crimes and being high-ranking members of outlaw motorcycle gangs.
The longest-serving detainee released following the High Court’s decision had been in immigration detention for 13 years and 47 people, more than half the total, had been detained for five years or longer.
The government also signalled that another 340 detainees could be released but both in question time and in response to direct questions, the ministers have refused to reveal the reasons each had been detained or the nature of the crimes some had committed, although Giles confirmed the list included three murderers and some sex offenders.
Immigration Minister Andrew Giles said during question time on Tuesday that at least three of the detainees were murderers. Credit: Alex Ellinghausen
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is already pushing Labor to return some of these people to detention, as immigration lawyers representing the newly released group of 84 claim new laws passed on Thursday to curtail the group may be unconstitutional.
After the High Court last week ruled against the indefinite detention of foreigners unable to be deported, ministers claimed for days they needed to see the court’s reasons before introducing new legislation. But on Thursday, the government rushed through laws to impose curfews and electronic monitoring devices on the released detainees.
In San Francisco for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, Albanese defended the passage of the new laws, which included a string of additional restrictions demanded by Dutton for those released, including mandatory curfews, electronic monitory and minimum sentences for detainees who re-offend.
“I was fully involved, we’ve responded to an issue back in Australia that’s a result of a decision by the High Court of Australia,” Albanese said. “We’ve responded appropriately.“
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